Reasons for the proposed legislation
"The horseracing industry came to Congress in 1978 to ask it to adopt the Interstate Horseracing Act and allow simulcasting
and off-track betting [across state lines]," says Whitfield. "Congress gave the industry everything it asked for; it did not
have any conditions attached to it." Whitfield sees several reasons this legislation is needed now.
Whitfield notes that, since 1978, more and more owners and breeders have expressed concerns about rampant drug use within
the U.S. racing industry. "No. 1, this is becoming a safety issue," Whitfield says. "No. 2, the objective is to get a horse
out there in major races and then breed that horse. And people are concerned the horses that are winning races might not be
the most genetically sound horses, but maybe the winning is associated with performance-enhancing drugs. Therefore, people
have expressed concern that there's been weakening of the breed."
The third reason he cited for introducing the legislation is that other countries and regions such as the European Union,
Middle East and Japan have no-drug policies.
Fourth, horse racing within the United States, with its 38 horse-racing jurisdictions, doesn't have one entity with the authority
to do anything substantive about the drug-use problem. Rather, it's left to individual racing commissions in every state.
The act is also meant to address the fact that every jurisdiction has different limitations on drug thresholds. "When someone
is found to be in violation, it frequently becomes a legal issue," says Whitfield. "Was the test right? Did they have too
little or too much of a particular drug? You get into a complex mechanism to deal with that issue."
Additionally, he says, "It seems more and more of a problem that many trainers who have violated drug rules frequently also
are named outstanding trainers of the year. So there's no stigma attached to using drugs illegally."
Finally, Whitfield says, there's a need for consumer protection. "The betting public really doesn't know what a given horse
has or doesn't have in it," he says. "Administrators in other sports are becoming stringent about drug use in those sports.
And yet in horseracing it's even more difficult, because the athlete—the horse—does not have any say in what it is administered."